A Cambridge, Maryland middle school teacher has found himself in hot water after school administrators became aware that he had written two novels involving a school shooting under a pen name. Is that just smart policy in an age of school shooting– or is it “Soviet-style punishment,” as The Atlantic contends?

Patrick McLaw wrote a number of sci-fi books as Dr. K.S. Voltaer. One, The Insurrectionist, is about a bombing at a school; its sequel, Lilith’s Heir, is about the consequences of that bomb. McLaw, who is currently 23, published the books his sophomore year of college. This apparently freaked administrators out so much that they got a police dog to sweep the school, searching for explosive devices. They didn’t find any. Then they searched McLaw’s house looking for weapons. Didn’t find any there, either.

A normal response at this point might be an apology. Instead, the sheriff had McLaw taken in for an emergency medical evaluation. He also has been placed on administrative leave, and has been prohibited from entering school property.

The one upside is that McLaw’s books (available as ebooks) have been rising in the rankings on Amazon as sympathetic readers have been purchasing them in a show of support for McLaw. There’s also a petition to free McLaw; sign it here.